This work reports on the healing of early stage fatigue damage in ionomer/nano-particulate composites. A series of poly(ethylene-co-methacrylic acid) zinc ionomer/Fe3O4 nanoparticle composites with varying amounts of ionic clusters were developed and subjected to different levels of fatigue loading. The initiated damage was healed upon localized inductive heating of the embedded nanoparticles by exposure of the particulate composite to an alternating magnetic field. It is here demonstrated that healing of this early stage damage in ionomer particulate composites occurs in two different steps. First, the deformation is restored by the free-shrinkage of the polymer at temperatures below the melt temperature. At these temperatures, the polymer network is recovered thereby resetting the fatigue induced strain hardening. Then, at temperatures above the melting point of the polymer phase, fatigue-induced microcracks are sealed, hereby preventing crack propagation upon further loading. It is shown that the thermally induced free-shrinkage of these polymers does not depend on the presence of ionic clusters, but that the ability to heal cracks by localized melting while maintaining sufficient mechanical integrity is reserved for ionomers that contain a sufficient amount of ionic clusters guaranteeing an acceptable level of mechanical stability during healing.
- poly(ethylene-co-methacrylic acid) ionomers
- fatigue damage
- inductive heating
- polymer nanoparticle composites
- OA-Fund TU Delft